Ahead of the big Euro 2012 kick-off on Saturday, Yahoo! Singapore speaks to former national team captain Aide Iskandar for his predictions. Who are his favourites to win? Will there be a dark horse? Read on to find out.
What are you looking forward to at Euro 2012?
Aide: I look forward to Euro 2012 and every European Championships because it is the biggest football tournament, next to the World Cup. It is also a stage for all European players, especially the promising and up-and-coming stars, to showcase their talents.
Who are your favourites for Euro 2012?
Aide: Spain and Germany. These two teams have a good balance of players who are capable of winning the tournament. Spain are the defending champions and their core players like Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Ramos are impeccable when playing as a team. They can certainly win games for Spain.
As for Germany, they have been a revolutionary team since Juergen Klinsmann took over. And now, Joachim Loew, who was his assistant back then, has emulated Klinsmann's philosophy and made this German team a force to be reckoned with. They have a good bunch of players who are at the right age and have been playing together for many years. They have also gone close in previous tournaments like at Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010, so I believe they will be one of the favourites to win the tournament this time.
Will there be any dark horses at Euro 2012?
Aide: France. Many people have written France off after what happened in the last World Cup (where they crashed out in the group stages without winning a game). However, they have the potential to do well in this Euro under coach Laurent Blanc. Players like Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery and many more will also want to prove their critics wrong.
How will England fare under new coach Roy Hodgson, especially when they will be without their best player Wayne Rooney in the first two games?
Aide: I am not too sure what Hodgson will achieve with England at this Euro, as his appointment came a bit too late for him to get the players to play according to his philosophy. However, there can always be a positive side as players would want to impress their new gaffer.
I am pretty sure he will prepare England to cope without Rooney in the first two games. There are others capable of stepping up to do the job for England. Players like Theo Walcott, Steven Gerrard, Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe and the untested Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain can all shine in the first two matches, and also for the rest of the tournament.
The former head coach of S.League outfit Hougang United analyses the four groups and picks the teams to emerge...
Group A: Czech Republic, Greece, Poland (co-host) and Russia
Aide: Czech Republic and Greece. Simply because they have better players compared to the other two teams.
Group B: Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Portugal
Aide: Germany and Netherlands. Germany can win the tournament if they play to their potential. Netherlands play attacking and attractive football and have no problem scoring goals. I picked them over Portugal because the Portuguese are over-reliant on just one player - Cristiano Ronaldo.
Group C: Croatia, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Spain
Aide: Spain and Italy. Spain are one of the favourites to win the tournament because of the many gifted players they have in the team. The Italians are still in a rebuilding stage but they would still have no problem going past the first round.
Group D: England, France, Sweden and Ukraine (co-host)
Aide: England and France. England will top this group because the new young players in the squad will be keen to show their worth and the old guards will also be keen to do well and keep their places in the team. So England will have a good Euro 2012. France will also get past the first stage because they are in good form and are going into the tournament on the back of a 21-game unbeaten run.